Stimulus Details

Charles Platt is a guest blogger

Earlier today I wondered what the actual text is of H.R.1, the bill to authorize an $819 billion "stimulus package." Newspapers don't generally go into this kind of detail, perhaps fearing that it would bore their readers, so I visited the very usefulOpen Congress site to find out. As I read the bill, two things caught my eye.

The first should have been obvious: The money will be mostly distributed among existing federal agencies. To spend huge sums of money, the government simply has to channel it through the system that already exists to allocate and track it. Unfortunately, some of these agencies are not widely known for timely and efficient behavior.

The second lesson is a corollary of the first and could be described as "no agency left behind." Naturally when you suddenly have more than $800 billion floating around, everyone wants a piece of it. Thus we find that very substantial sums are being allocated for purposes such as assisting local law enforcement (the war on drugs, no doubt), housing soldiers, and (of course) increasing homeland security.

Here are some random items that I copied and pasted. For more details, check the link above.

Law Enforcement
$3 billion for state and local law enforcement assistance.
$1 billion for community policing services.

Department of Defense
$4.5 billion to modernize and repair Army barracks and other defense facilities.

General Services Administration
$6 billion for construction and repair of federal buildings.
$1 billion for immigration facilities at ports of entry.

Homeland Security
$250 million for salaries and construction at ports of entry.
$500 million for purchase and installation of explosive detection systems.
$150 million for alteration or removal of obstructive bridges.

The last item is amusing in a grim way. I thought this bill was largely intended to restore "crumbling infrastructure" but apparently $150 million will be spent partly on tearing it down.